“Bubbleland is a real place, according to Mr Bubbles, a real place peopled by bubbles.”
There are two certain ways to get kids to disengage from whatever they are doing and excitedly focus on the novelty. The first is to enter the room and announce in a loud, clear voice, “Go Jetters to your stations.” Alternatively, one can enter singing “Go! Go! Go! Octonauts!” The outrage is real. The conclusion that you are the kind of halfwit who can’t even be trusted not to mix up the words to songs, is immediately, irreversibly drawn. The second method to get kids to stop whatever they are doing is more universal and has been since Cain, Abel and Seth were in pull-ups: bubbles.
Dr Johnson famously remarked that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Less well known are the words that followed, “and if he be tired of bubbles why is a coxcomb knave whose very soul is decayed, possibly beyond remedy save only by the immediate and direct intercession of his personal redeemer.” Bubbles, in short, are brill.
Mr Bubbles enters to a crowd of all ages. Daughter 1.0, aged 4, is somewhere in the upper, lower middle of the range. The staging is simple. Only the set necessary to facilitate the magic that is to come. Mr Bubbles tells his life story. Born. falls in love with bubbles. Made to join the army. Gets out of army. Back to bubbles.
And what bubbles they are. BIG bubbles. Small bubbles. Fire bubbles (really). Helium bubbles. Steam-powered bubbles. Frothy bubbles. Smokey bubbles. Bubbles inside other bubbles. Treasures and artefacts brought (Parthenon Marbles style) back by Mr Bubbles from his journey to Bubbleland. Bubbleland is a real place, according to Mr Bubbles, a real place peopled by bubbles.
Mr Bubbles, is of a similar size and build to Justin Fletcher – although his army days have kept him somewhat trimmer, as Granny is quick to point out. He is young and his show feels like it will ripen with age. The truly high notes are yet to come. But the globetrotting graft that has gone in, makes for a flawless performance. He is not one of those hyperactive performers who think it their business to rile the kiddies up into a state of frenzy. His connection is personal and personable. The kids who join him on stage are confident and happy (although he could make more effort to select kids from further back).
The show is in two distinct halves. There’s the lively, jolly, a bit sciencey first half. Then there’s the sensory light and sound second half. The latter is when the very young ones fully engage. The whisps of squally discontentment lift life a helium bubble on its way to meet the houselights. Daughter 2.0 (19 months) would have loved the second half, although I think I would have had a job to keep her settled through the first.
This is not a show that will blow your mind, but it’s gentle humour and obvious passion will lift your spirits. Daughter 1.0 leaves with a spring in her step and her face. Mr Bubbles (B.Ed.) has entrusted her and all the rest with the secret knowledge that life is better with bubbles. That was good sharing Mr Bubbles. Good sharing.
Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 12 August)